WARRENTON — Detective Tyler Johnston expected a slow first day at his new post, just a few hours of training and some face-to-face meetings. But a fatal police shooting in Seaside forced him to nix those plans.
Seaside Police Cpl. David Davidson had shot and killed Cashus Dean Case at the Seasider RV Park, and the Clatsop County Major Crimes Team responded to the scene to begin a probe of the incident. The investigation is ongoing.
“It was pretty crazy,” Johnston said. “It was really an out of the frying pan and into the fire sort of moment. It was exciting, it was exhausting, but I really learned a lot.”
Johnston’s three-year appointment marks the first time the Warrenton Police Department has had a detective since 2016. The appointment comes after the department was allotted an additional position in this year’s city budget.
“We’ve been looking to do a detective position for the last several years,” Warrenton Police Chief Mathew Workman said. “We’re finally now at full staff for the first time in a long time.”
Johnston, 26, joined the department in 2015. He is the son of former Astoria Police Chief Brad Johnston.
Two officers applied for the position when it opened earlier this year. Johnston, a department representative on the major crimes team for more than a year, was chosen for his investigative experience, Workman said.
None of the relatively small police departments in the county have their own major crimes team, unlike most large departments. Johnston’s appointment gives Warrenton police a more active seat at the table in major investigations. It allows more leads to be followed up and could help the department resolve some of its own big cases more quickly.
“We can all shoulder some of the workload,” Johnston said. “Being part of that team is something we’re really excited about.”
The investigation in Seaside “opened my eyes to some of the complexities of investigations that I hadn’t considered,” he said.
The appointment also allows more fluidity in daily crime investigations. Johnston will be assigned to person-on-person crimes and more complex cases, including internet crimes like identity theft and child pornography.
Johnston spends much of his time collecting search warrants, subpoenas and recordings in attempts to build cases strong enough for the Clatsop County District Attorney’s Office to prosecute.
“It’s a lot of writing, I will say,” Johnston said.
Johnston is expected to have the option of renewing his appointment when it expires in 2021. The department would review applications from other officers as well, Workman said.